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Smart Electric Grids Make Room for Electric Vehicles on the Electric Highway

Written by Sophia Schmidt

Smart GridSo what is all this talk around a smart electrical grid, you say? Well, there is growing concern around the world, in particular, in developed countries, that hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles charging at the same time may add too much load to the electric grid. The potential increase in demand from EVs is a significant factor in making a smart grid necessary, proponents say. This additional draw on power could end up overworking the electrical system around the US or Europe and result in brownouts, or worse yet, blackouts similar to what New York City experienced a few years back.


Blackouts to this degree experienced in New York could equate to a devastating tsunami on the shores of all electric vehicles. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is utilizing the expertise and input from more than 20 companies worldwide, including Tesla Motors and Google. The IEC wants to make smart electric grid recommendations to address how the electric grid can maintain high efficiency and usability. Their standard smart electrical grid will be able to manage recharging of batteries for electric vehicles at peak demand times. So for instance, when air conditioners and TVs are running at full power in the midday of summer, the smart grid can adjust how quickly it is supplying power to recharge electric cars and trucks.


Beyond educating consumers and companies alike that power demand is less at night (and that wind turbines run most effectively at night), the smart grid can balance electric resources over a region, choosing the most ecological way to generate electricity. If done right, a smart grid can conceivable reduce the need for additional power plants, even as more electric cars hit the road.

Smart Grid EV Charging


The key is in how the grid will "communicate" with vehicles. Google, and several other start-ups, are developing "smart charging" software to ensure that plug-in electric vehicles can ride smoothly down the information highway. The grid will need to address how the market will work in the near future and plan for the introduction of many more next-generation battery and electric vehicle technologies that will want to charge more in less time.


As well, software companies are looking into how plug-in electric vehicles can feed stored electricity back to the utility companies during peak times. This technology still remains experimental. Perhaps researchers can first focus on my need for a uniform charger for all mobile phone and laptop plugs.

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